Keys to the Game: vs. Texas Tech

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Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Ride the run

Junior running back D’Onta Foreman had no problem running against the Big 12’s top defense last week, accruing a cool 250 yards against the Bears.

Foreman, the nation’s second-leading rusher, has nine-straight games of 100-plus rushing yards and reached the 1,000-yard mark on the season on Saturday in Texas’ thrilling 35–34 victory over Baylor.

Texas’ vicious run attack should have the upper hand this weekend against a lackluster Texas Tech defense. The Red Raiders rank last in the conference in total defense and 126th in the nation, allowing opponents 539.6 yards per game. Texas Tech has allowed its opponents to score 66-plus points on two separate occasions and has given up 42 touchdowns through eight contests. With Foreman in the driver’s seat, the Longhorns should have no problem moving the ball and putting points on the board.  

Pressure the quarterback

While Texas’ offensive strength is on the ground, Texas Tech’s is in the air. Junior quarterback Patrick Mahomes II has proved just how strong his arm is this season, leading the country in passing with slightly more than 500 yards per game for the Red Raiders. Mahomes is throwing for roughly 126 more yards per game than Louisville’s sophomore quarterback and Heisman frontrunner Lamar Jackson.

Texas had trouble earlier in the season against high-powered passing offenses, but has made improvements since Strong took over the defensive play-calling duties. Over the last three games, the Longhorns have recorded 16 sacks and 31 tackles for loss, and are leading the conference in the latter category with eight per game.

Texas needs to pressure Mahomes in the pocket and stop him from making the big throws. This game has the potential to be a high-scoring shootout, but it’s crucial for Texas to halt the pass.   

Play with passion

Through eight games, Texas has yet to win on the road. The Longhorns are undefeated in front of their home crowd, but there’s a clear difference in energy and performance when they’re away from Austin. The Longhorns can play with passion and fire as they’ve shown this season by beating then No. 10 Notre Dame in the season opener and then No. 8 Baylor last week, but they need to bring that same intensity to Lubbock.

The Longhorns have to be sharp this weekend in Lubbock and get over the woes that have plagued them on the road the past few seasons. Texas players have looked lost on the road this season, missing tackles and dropping pivotal catches down the stretch. Coming off an impressive win last week, the team needs to continue the momentum and leave everything on the field in Lubbock.